tv Susan Butler on Roosevelt and Stalin CSPAN May 24, 2015 8:15am-9:01am EDT
>> so susan butler grew up in new york and received her m.a. from columbia university. her articles have appeared in "the new york times" and in parents. is also the author of east to the dawn and editor of my dear mr. stalin and she currently lives in florida. i started working with her over a decade ago when she's working on her first fdr and stalin book and as i was chatting again with her i reminded her we really bonded over trying to figure out the map room time coding system because when she's doing her book of fdr and stalin correspondence, she was committed and dedicated to making sure she knew the order of when messages left the map room come when they were received and did they see them or did they cross before the responded to each of the? that's how we bonded me many years ago in the archives. so it is wonderful to welcome susan back to hyde park to share
with us her most recent work "roosevelt and stalin: portrait of a partnership." ladies and gentlemen sue butler. [applause] spin of what you think bob clark. ii do not agree what one is trying to figure out whether roosevelt and stalin had seen the messages before they replied to each other's messages and it was all greek to me and bob interpreted so that i could figure out what was going on. and the book came out in 2005 and i have been really i guess talking about and thinking about and writing about roosevelt and stalin or at least 10 years to get this book is the result of all i learned when i is putting together the messages. but this book "roosevelt and stalin" is really roosevelt's
book. it's about how roosevelt brilliantly went about winning the war organizing the postwar world and making stalin and churchill fit in with his plans. they were both a tough sell. what is notable though is how he kept changing stalin's mind. i thought i might find the opposite, but what i found essentially was that stalin did his bidding. we think of world war ii as the last good war and have woven myths about it, which is natural. it's very hard for all of us to be objective about our pastor in fact i suppose you could say it's almost impossible. how many here have
it because fdr insisted that china be one of the four major players in the postwar world organization along with great britain, america and the soviet union, stalin agreed. because fdr insisted stalin agreed to free and unfettered elections in poland. because he trusted fdr stalin signed an agreement whereby russian troops would invade japan before american troops. because fdr insisted stalin agreed that any nation could bring up any subject for discussion in the security council your roosevelt began influencing stalin in 1941 when stalin was a desperate for help when it looked as if hitler's army was about to take moscow and overwhelm russia.
fdr gathered a group of reported to the white house and told them about the russian constitution that granted freedom of conscience and freedom of religion in russia. the first results of this were mixed. when hamilton fish the republican congressman from hyde park heard about it he suggested the president invites stalin to the white house so he could be baptized in the white house swimming pool. and then suggested he take them to sunday school. more to the point. fdr told herald in oz way to moscow to meet stalin to work out russia's immediate armament needs to pressure stalin to open the churches. two years later two months before tehran, stalin not only open all the russian orthodox church is in seminaries throughout the soviet union he freed the free russian orthodox
patriarchs who you put in jail in 1925. the churches remain open throughout stalin's life. the relationship goes back to 1933 when fdr resumed diplomatic relations with the soviet union, a move opposed by for example, most of the state department including george can. although it is backed by most of the business leaders in america. stalin and lynn have been trying to establish a diplomatic relationship with america since 1919. stalin was so grateful county but fdr's photo on the front pages of russian papers and he had prague to write code, it is necessary to pay full tribute initiative taken by the president of the united states. when germany laid the keel of
the bismarck in 1936 the largest ship germany had ever built, stalin tried to have a lightship built in america because russia did not have the capability. fdr defended the project even as anti-soviet u.s. naval personnel sabotage it by threatening to withdraw all future naval business with any company that was interested. fdr's -- fdr new stalin wanted a navy come and stalin was informed of fdr's involvement. in 1939 increasingly concerned with the menace of hitler, roosevelt again to try to strengthen stalin stand against hitler. fdr pushed a reluctant british foreign office into responding to a russian request for a military alliance with britain and france. it was only after the british foreign office or alternated
between rudeness and progress to nation that russia opened up talks with nazi germany that ended up with the signing of the nazi soviet pact. fdr meddled further as he realized the english russian negotiations had failed. decent stalin a letter warning him not to sign on with hitler. it was of course too little and too late. fdr had no delusions about stalin. in 1940, speaking to a group of students down there at the white house, he famously said that stalin's dictatorship was quote as absolute as any other dictatorship in the world at that quote he was guilty of the indiscriminate killings of thousands of innocent victims. from the start fdr was thinking of how to corrections might after the war was one. one night in 1942 after dinner at the white house fdr confided
this to the canadian prime minister, mckenzie king. i'm quoting from his diary, december 5, 1942 quote the president said he would like to discuss tonight the question of disarmament and bringing stalin into the picture. he said that was very necessary. then he asked me if i remembered this thing of the senator watson. if you cannot beat the devil join him. he said russia was going to be very powerful. the thing to do now was to get plans made for disarmament. later in evening, king wrote in his diary fdr repeated watson state you cannot beat him join him, and then went on to say it was clear the u.s., britain and china could not defeat russia. the thing to do is to get them all working on the same lines. even came to what he said was confidential and added, for
god's sake don't give me away. two months after stalin opened the churches secular state was then moscow setting up the tehran conference. he announced that fdr wanted china to be a signatory along with britain russia and america, in a four-part statement calling for united action against the axis powers integration of an international peacekeeping organization. fdr, unique in his a generation, did not think the white race should rule the world. it upon stalin refused to agree to china as the fourth policeman. whereupon he said he would pack his bags and go home. for the meeting was over molotov read a note from stall announcing he changed his mind and china became the fourth
signatory. when fdr and stalin finally met at tehran in late november 1943 they discovered they had a lot in common particularly in aversion to colonialism. as they talk about france, realized they shared dislike of both the country and of its leaders. said fdr no frenchman over 40 and particularly no frenchman who would ever taken part in the present french government should be allowed to return to positions in the future. said stalin of the french ruling class, they should not be entitled to share in any of the benefits of the peace in the of the past record of collaboration with germany. fdr was not only chair of the tehran conference, he dominated the proceedings because the conference progressed he allowed
stalin to wear down winston churchill who kept throwing up roadblocks to a cross channel invasion and coming up with new reasons to postpone it. fdr and stalin finally set the date for the normandy invasion in spite of churchill. it was a good stalin would doublecross him. churchill had no understanding of stalin once comparing him to a crocodile. fdr was haunted by the tragedy of the botched peace only the versailles conference. the german army that marched home after world war i hardly knew it had been defeated. fdr wanted to make sure that on his watch the germans were going to suffer. that led him decide that after the war was over they would be no gathering of heads of state no time when he would not be in control. he did this by calling for the unconditional surrender of germany, and refusing to define what he meant. that's all the the problem.
there would be no negotiated peace, no one able to interfere with what he and general marshall decided. no interference. as fdr said reporter in honolulu in 1944 in response to voiced fears that such a policy was prolonging the war that was not a bad thing. quote, there had been a good deal of complaint among some of the nice highlighted people about unconditional surrender do we change the term that if we changed the term unconditional surrender germany might surrender more swiftly. that it is too tough and too rough. unconditional surrender still stands asked the reporter? yes, said roosevelt. practically all germans deny the fact that they surrendered in the last war but this time they are going to know it.
fdr felt so strong on the subject he wants sensuous secretary of the treasury quote we either have to castrate the german people or you to treat them in such matters so they can't just go on producing people who want to continue the way they have in the past. i want to speak a bit about hitler. hitler's image has changed over the years. today, hitler's attempted extermination of the jewish race takes center stage. so it's easy to forget that he was just as methodical about killing off those laws and also considered like the jews inferior beings. and he was possibly even more efficient he killed 27 million russians 16% of the population. he boasted that he planned to turn russia and poland into slave nations. the conflict he announced will be very different from the conflict in the west.
and poland was the only country outside the fatherland where death camps were constructed. to serve the dual purpose of finishing off the russians as well as poles, three of the polish death camps were built virtual on the polish-russian border. he instructed his the generals to level leningrad, to target key buildings such as the amortized. is directive was quote it is intended to surround the city and then raise it to the ground. request to be allowed to surrender will be rejected. we have no interest in preserving any part of the population about largest city. hitler's master plan called for the uprooting of the remaining polls from ukraine, belarusians and russians and replacing them with the germans who would kill slavs land with the latest agricultural machinery and produce harvest the fruit for the growing germination.
given this mindset come if followed at all russian soldiers taken prisoner were routinely brutalized him into an open field in sometimes starved to death to death by exposure had not killed enough of them. more than half of the russian soldiers captured died. another area of agreement roosevelt and stalin discovered at tehran was at the both village it was simply a matter of time, no matter what postwar measures were taken he for germany would begin rise up in minutes year. stalin, therefore sought from fdr an alliance that would stop or deal with the next guy. fdr knew this and it dovetails with this mindset. he kept emphasizing that before powerful nations the four policemen who would later take form with the addition of france as the permanent members of the security council would ride herd
on the rest of the nation's. at the tehran conference roosevelt was housed in the russian embassy. he assumed, by the way that his rooms would be bugged. stalin developed a habit of dropping by his rooms to make sure he was being well taken care of. a woman who spoke english remembered she happened to see stalin one morning when he was somewhere near fdr's suite come and obvious intent on visiting the president. she translated and stalin asked may i come in by the roosevelt said, well. the conversation began with stalin's simple questions to roosevelt. hawaii you? did you have a good sleep? the president replied, yes, i had a good sleep. i like it here. however, the frogs kept poking in the pond and i could not fall asleep. i turned around, she said come
own choice. this is the principle of the atlantic charter, the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they will live. stalin also agreed that there would be no veto of the agenda in the security council on the proposed united nations. churchill's doctor, privy to all that transpired at yalta was so struck by stalin's attitude quote, ma one cannot help noticing stalin's deference to the president's opinions. this frame of mind does not come naturally to stalin. what is behind it all? at a yalta from fdr and stalin reached an understanding whereby russia would enter the war against japan three months after germany surrendered, which meant the russian army on the manchurian border would invade before the american invasion that was scheduled for november.
in return roosevelt agreed to give the soviet union what japan had taken from them in 1945. said abdel kane county as chief of naval operations after the agreement was announced at yalta, we have just saved 2 million americans. they are ashley there were serious problems after yalta. there were disputes over the perceived callous treatment of the hands of the soviets of those american soldiers released from prisons as the russian army freed poland. stalin's hysteria when he perceived, wrongly, that the u.s. and the uk word negotiate a separate peace with the german generals come which fdr answered in a moving company motion the cable explaining no separate peace was contemplated. quote roosevelt, it would be one of the great tragedies of history if at the very moment of victory now within our grasp
such distrust, such lack of faith should prejudice the entire undertaking. frankly, i cannot avoid a feeling of bitter resentment towards your informers, whoever they are of such a vile misrepresentation of my action. upon receiving this cable stalin was obviously reassured. that afternoon he had molotov announced that russia denounced its non-aggression pact with japan. you a read of fdr's -- excusing -- of fdr's unceasing efforts to make churchill get along with stalin. in table after table to churchill fdr insisted stalin had to be consulted and included after all decisions. the cable's fdr sent to churchill and stalin the day before he died were solely concerned with bolstering their
shared outlines. to stalin he wrote quote, they must not in any event be mutual distrust and minor misunderstandings should not arise in the future. his last words to churchill were our course thus far is correct. roosevelt pushed churchill a number of times to loosen britain's hold on its colonies it was after he appointed a particularly unaggressive ambassador to india that churchill made the comment, i have not become a team's first minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the british empire. fdr gave a press conference while steaming home after yalta during which he replied in response to the reporter's questions, all that territory out there, he churchill wants them all back just the way they were? yes replied roosevelt.
and in response to the reporter's comment this idea of churchill seems inconsistent with a policy of self-determination the president had answered yes, that is true. roosevelt was heard hurt is after one of his last meetings with churchill yes i am tired. so would you be if you it's been the last five years pushing winston uphill in a wheelbarrow. fdr death able to stun so he ordered all government agencies in moscow during black boarded a flight into. the front pages of also the papers announcing the presence of death were bordered in black. roosevelt's of death changed everything. at the san francisco conference ambassador gromyko began backtracking on the composition of the interim polish
government. then the beginning of june he suddenly announced that the soviet union now insisted that a nation could be to the agenda in the security council. and upset secretary of state told him i would be utterly impossible for us to join an organization holding veto power over discussion. it was only when harry hawkins went to moscow in early june to talk to the stalin told them if you wanted to continue the outlines and expected economic help from america, he had to honor the old agreement he made with fdr. on poland india to withdraw his insistence on a veto over the agenda in the security council. after these meetings, immediately after these meetings with hopkins, stalin acquiesced, backtracked on both matters.
on july 16 the first atomic bomb was detonated in new mexico. i want to end but talk about fdr and the atom bomb. i think i have uniquely discovered every conversation fdr had about sharing control, sharing knowledge of the bomb with stalin. on the evidence i found i am sure he would've shared control with russia. he told the kinsey came a month before he died that is not the time to come to tell them how far the developments had gone. all the nuclear scientist come including that -- vannevar bush and james comey, coeds of the manhattan project, advocated this because they were sure the soviet union would have a bomb within four years. and, of course, they were right. just before he died fdr asked his speech writer, robert
sherwood, defined in a jefferson quote on the subject of science to include in a speech on april 13, jefferson's birthday. the quote is as follows. thomas jefferson himself a distinguished scientist once spoke of a brotherly spirit of science which unites into one family all its -- whatever grade andover widely dispersed throughout the different quarters of the globe. fdr died the day before he was to give the speech. germany surrendered may 8 1945 and stalin had promised at the art, three months to the day after the surrender of germany the soviet union declared war on japan. on august 9 1 million soviet troops poured over the border into manchuria. but later that same day the
second atom bomb annihilated not the sake. two atomic bombs -- nagasaki. stunned japan. several days later, japan surrendered. most americans mesmerized by the force of the atom bomb believed that america was held responsible for the japanese capitulation to the japanese and the russians know differently. it didn't help when truman gave his victory speech in september without mentioning russian participation. i don't like to throw in an interesting but little known fact. before the war the soviet union and the united states were roughly the same size in terms of population. they were slightly larger, about 160 million to our 135 million. of course there have been changes and, of course, that included the ukraine secretly before the war russia and america were roughly the same size in terms of population.
but the russian population today is essentially the same as it was. it's 143 million. we are now over 300 million. they are not half our size. essentially russia has never recovered from world war ii. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you susan. >> hitler and stalin were tyrants, but isn't it true that during the '30s with ukraine and the trials and gulags that hitler mass murdered more people than hitler? >> you mean stalin speak with i mean stalin.
i'm sorry. >> actually that's not true, no. but the major difference between the two of them is sort of in my mind ideological. stalin killed because he was trying to create a greater russia, and that's what he killed when he was trying to change collective farming farming into collective farming. where's helen was trying to annihilate the slav phrases and the jewish races. spent yes, thank you. i just started reading your book the other day and i'm up to page 75 which is first impressions chapter. and i'm enjoying it very much. >> thank you. >> the question is in the to run section, chapter before, it is the tehran section to get talked about fdr not wanting to travel to meet the stalin there because
of constitutional policy -- >> concerns. >> of concerned. one thing you didn't mention and i am not clear on myself, is if there's a 10 day congress signed, sent over bill to the president, for him to act on the bill and have it returned to congress, under the terms of the constitution, how was woodrow wilson able to spend months over in europe after world war i for the versailles meetings speak with such a very interesting question. i've never thought of it before. i don't have the slightest idea. [laughter] spin i know you didn't mention it in your and that's what i thought okay i missing something. >> thank you. i'm going to research it. >> thank you. >> anybody else?
well, i sort of hope there would be more questions on my take on -- good. >> i recall, from where i don't remember, but the concern after world war ii about germany rising up again that stalin, ma one of stalin's ideas was to simply murder all the officers in the german army, which kind of appalled the west. >> that happened in tehran. there was a toast made, here's to the death of 50000 german officers come and everybody toasted it. and churchill got really angry and hot under the carpet he had too much to drink up too much brandy, he got up and stormed out and he was angry at anybody who agreed with stalin and toasted the death of all these
german officers. >> okay. >> i'm just curious, do you have any sense can do think that stalin knew he was being manipulated by fdr or that he just truly agreed with the ideas that fdr was putting forward a? did have a sense that fdr was really -- >> what i've concluded after all this time of studying stalin thatthat is much more intelligent than we ever gave him credit for. yet an extensive library with many, many history books and in the books, his library was preserving the underlying all the things that were important to them. he knew exactly what was going on. he was of course a communist but it's also a very strong nationalist. 's when he was looking for was a
greater russia and the only way that would be a greater russia was it roosevelt gave it to him. so no fool he accused going to get along with the most powerful country in the world which was us. >> susan i'll just ask you one question while the isolate is making her way to the microphone. what is the perception that it of the relationship? >> if you go to moscow there is a museum which is very important to them which is a museum showing all of the aid that america gave to russia. and they consider that world war ii is, they call it the great patriotic war. it was sort of the hague of
their greatness and to remember it with nostalgia and to remember us with really with a great deal of appreciation and nostalgia. and to the incredible astonishment of the rest of the world, the question has been of the last 20 years, it's all going to run for office now probably more than half of russia would vote for him because he presided over the greatest years. so they have totally different perception of what happened in world war ii and we do really. >> i was recently in estonia and i really didn't know that much about stalin. i was stunned. or make him he was like another hitler in the way that he would absolutely plan how to hurt and
unmercifully kill people, and that's step number one. step number two did roosevelt know this part of stalin speak with yes, roosevelt knew it very well. he discussed the future of the three baltic states and he was bent on influencing stalin to the greatest extent he could. he thought that of course roosevelt didn't think he was going to die. he thought in another 10 or 22 is going to be able to sort of came stalin and make him a more responsible person. but in the meantime he wasn't about to throw over the united nations for the sake of lithuania latvia and estonia. he believed that the countries that iran their own affairs. and after all those three countries had belonged to russia
before world war i. i mean you can't you can't he was a very tough man and he did a great deal of evil but i'll roosevelt could do was harness him and hopefully change in, and he made small changes as i said. stalin opened the churches only because of fdr. i mean that is something that is totally amazing, and most people don't know it and it's not even, it's not acknowledged today. >> and by the way catherincatherin e harriman went to in each of service. her father by then was ambassador to the soviet union as you can raise her arms because the church was so jammed that she could raise her arms.
they were packed in so closely spent so for the american opinion that was against yalta and complained about the yalta and many continues today in some forms, what are the arguments against what happened and how do you didn't? >> i think it's an anti-fdr sentiment, which by my life, i would characterize it as irrational. >> does it have any force?
instead of bringing people together which i'm sure fdr would not comment it divided as strongly divided our two countries. >> thank you over the questions. thank you again for a great lecture. [applause] as i said she will be available to sign books at the new deal story. thank you for coming. [inaudible conversations]